Pastitsio is one of the most tasty classic dishes in Greek cuisine, must also one of the most rich in calories! Still, there is not one housewife, Greek tavern or tourist hotel not serving this fantastic food.
There are many different recipes for Pastitsio, as every cook has his own way of preparing it. But the basic is always the same: Macaroni pasta with minced meat and loads of Bechamel sauce.
Actually, it is very easy to prepare Pastitsio. The only disadvantage is that, it is very time (and pot) consuming.
As for the grounded cheese used in this recipe you can also use any other hard yellow cheese of your taste. This can be Gruyere, Emmental etc. Here in Greece, we like to use “Kefalotyri”, a hard yellow cheese made from sheep and goat milk with a very hearty taste.
My storage tip: in a lot of recipes one ingredient is tomato paste. Sometimes you can find this in tubes in super markets, but most of the time it is canned in small or large tins. Usually you only need a few spoons of it, so what to do with the rest? I fill it in the ice-cube tray of my freezer and deep-freeze it until hard. Then, I store it in a plastic box in the freezer, making 1 tablespoon of tomato paste each cube.
What you need:
4 Tbsp. Olive oil
2 medium sized chopped onions
1 chopped garlic clove
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
900-1000 gr minced meat (beef)
100 ml dry red wine
1 can diced tomatoes (400gr)
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
2 cubes beef broth
2 laurel leaves
fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dry thyme
4 Tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)
100 gr butter
100 gr all purpose flour
1 liter cold milk
½ tsp freshly grounded nutmeg
50 gr Gruyere grounded cheese
3 egg yolks
500 gr Macaroni pasta
30 ml olive oil
200 gr Gruyere grounded cheese
50 gr Gruyere grounded cheese
How to prepare it:
In a large pot heat the olive oil on high and steam the onions until glassy. Add the garlic and steam another minute. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 1-2 minutes.
Add the meat and divide with a cooking spoon until lumpy. Let cook on high until the meat took color. Deglaze with the wine and let cook on medium heat until all liquid has dissolved.
Add the diced tomatoes, the sugar, cinnamon, beef broth cubes, thyme and laurel leaves and let cook for 10-20 minutes until all liquid has dissolved.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large pot melt the butter on high. Add the flour and stir well with a wisk until mixed smoothly.
Add the milk slowly, stirring constantly. Let cook while stirring until thickened.
Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Add the cheese and stir well.
In a bowl beat the egg yolk and add to the Bechamel while stirring well.
Cook the pasta together with the olive oil 2-3 minutes less as recommended.
Strain the pasta and rinse with lots of cold water to stop the cooking process. Let drain very well.
In a bowl beat the eggs. Add the cheese and stir well. Set aside.
Finishing the Pastitio:
Preheat the oven on 180ºC.
Grease a deep baking tin (appr. 25×35 cm) and add 2/3 of the Macaronis. Add the egg-cheese mixture and stir well.
Add one soup spoon of the Bechamel sauce to the minced meat sauce and stir well. Add the sauce on top of the pasta and spread evenly.
Add the remaining pasta and spread evenly.
Add the remaining Bechamel sauce on top of the pasta and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Cook in the oven for 40 minutes on air until the top of the Pastitsio turned golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 servings